Oscar-worthy Movies for Kids (or Kids at Heart)

The Animated Film category is always filled with children's movie nominations, but the really special kids' movies can hold their own against adult movies in the other categories. This year Up has been nominated for five Oscars, including best picture. It's a computer animation about an old man who rigs thousands of helium balloons to his house and floats away on an adventure.

If you like clay-mation you might be interested to know that the newest Wallace & Gromit film, the mysterious A Matter of Loaf and Death is nominated for best Animated Short Film. The Wallace and Gromit films are always big hits at the Academy Awards. The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, and the feature-length Curse of the Were-Rabbit (featuring the voices of Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter) all received Academy Awards in previous years, and A Grand Day Out was nominated in 1990, but it lost to Creature Comforts, which is another clay-mation movie by the same filmmaker, Nick Park.

Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince is nominated for best cinematography. The Harry Potter films have not yet won any Oscars despite their wild popularity and six past nominations. Neil Gaiman's Coraline, featuring the voices of Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher is nominated for best animated feature film. Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Princess and the Frog both earned Oscar nominations too, but they won't hit library shelves until March, so don't forget to place your holds on them after they're ordered because they are sure to be popular.

Youth Nonfiction Finds -- Story and Prayer

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Over thousands of years of human history, the different cultures of the world have produced some diverse and beautiful expressions of spirituality. Fortunately, the Youth Department has plenty of books to help you explore the wide world of spiritual traditions.

For stories of the sacred, try Burleigh Muten's books, Goddesses: A World of Myth and Magic and The Lady of Ten Thousand Names. These books provide an impressive collection of goddess myths from around the world. Kris Waldherr's book Sacred Animals, presents stories of spiritually significant animals and what they represent in different cultures.

For a comprehensive collection of prayers, try the beautiful little book In the House of Happiness, or the The Barefoot Book of Blessings, which contain prayers, old and new, for every occasion and circumstance. Here's the Navajo prayer which inspired the title of "In the House of Happiness":

In the house of happiness, there I wander.
Beauty before me, there I wander.
Beauty behind me, there I wander.
Beauty below me, there I wander.
Beauty above me, there I wander.
Beauty all around me, with it I wander.
In old age traveling, with it I wander.
On the beautiful trail I am, with it I wander.

The AADL Kid-i-cotts

Join us this Friday in the Downtown Multipurpose Room from 6-8:30 pm to celebrate the Caldecott medal winner. The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1938 to recognize excellence in illustration. This year the award has gone to Jerry Pinkney's excellent rendition of The Lion and the Mouse, which tells Aesop's classic fable entirely in pictures.

This Friday, after a brief presentation of the Caldecott winner and other historical Caldecotts, you will have the chance to tell stories in pictures yourself. Your imagination is the only limit, so bring all your creativity, enthusiasm and love of art!

Youth Nonfiction Finds -- Special Edition: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day when we should look forward and backward -- backward into history to appreciate how far we have come as a country and the hard work of those who brought us here, and forward to the challenges we still have to face in order to bring about true equality. Here are some good books to help you get a good understanding of the history of the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr.:

Who Was Martin Luther King Jr.? provides a concise biography of its titular subject and background on the issues underlying the Civil Rights Movement, such as Jim Crow Laws and the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision. My Brother Martin, written by Christine King Farris, tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.'s childhood, for a more human picture of the great man. Did you know that he was quite the prankster as a child? I Have a Dream presents Dr. King's famous speech in manageable bites, accompanied by evocative illustrations.

For those who want to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement itself, Nobody Gonna Turn Me 'Round presents a very understandable, illustrated history of the major events of the movement. A Dream of Freedom provides a more in-depth look at the issues, from Emancipation to the Black Panther Party. In Freedom's Children activists like Claudette Colvin and Ruby Bridges share their experiences of growing up during those tumultuous times. Finally, The Civil Rights Movement for Kids combines history with activities, like skits, songs, speeches and even recipes, to really bring history home.

An Extraordinary Child with a Special Destiny

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is the story of a hyperactive pre-teen boy who discovers that his real father is one of the great Greek gods of mythology. That makes him a demigod, a half-god half-mortal with special powers and a special destiny. He is whisked away to a magically protected camp where he discovers a whole community of demigod kids learning to survive and develop their special talents in a world suddenly full of magic and monsters. Percy soon discovers that a great evil is trying to use him to return to the world, and nobody can be trusted, not even the gods of Olympus.

This series bears many strong thematic resemblances to the Harry Potter series, and its a great fit for any kids or adults who enjoyed Harry Potter and are looking for other things in the same vein. However, Riordan writes from the perspective of young Percy and uses Percy's irreverent (and often sarcastic) voice to ensure things stay light-hearted on his quests of near-constant monster battles and conflicts.

The Lightning Thief, the first book of the series, is being made into a movie which is due to be released later this year. It has the potential to be great, despite its lack of my most favorite character, Nico di Angelo. That kid is awesome. Am I right?

Parent Magazine Update -- Inspiration Information

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I hope you feel rested and refreshed at the end of this holiday season. On the other hand, if you feel like you used up all your creative energy picking gifts and planning activities, January's parent magazines have tools to inspire and inform you.

The Horn Book Magazine is a great guide to the best inspirational tools on the planet -- books! This issue contains an interview with children's author Margaret Mahy, an article in defense of fanfiction (an under-appreciated genre in my opinion), and of course, abundant book reviews. The editors' book picks this issue include Imogene's Last Stand, wordless picture book The Lion and the Mouse,Crossing Stones - a teen novel about World War 1, and graphic novel The Storm in the Barn.

Working Mother Magazine features some inspiring portraits of successful career women, with a bio of White House deputy chief of staff Mona Sutphen and an article by Lynn Blum, the founder of resale shops Once Upon a Child, Plato's Closet and Clothes Mentor. On the more serious side of things, Working Mother also covers recent changes in custody settlements brought on by an increase in stay-at-home dads, with suggestions to minimize the effects of divorce on children.This issue also contains tips on keeping track of your teenager, and some tasty-looking one-dish recipes. I think that "Vegetarian Paella" and "Chicken Olive Tagine" sound pretty inspiring, don't you?

Happy Birthday Jerry Pinkney!

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Jerry Pinkney (born December 22, 1939) is an African American illustrator of children’s books. Even if you are not familiar with his name, it is likely that you have seen the work of this prolific artist. Jerry Pinkney has illustrated over one hundred children's books since 1964. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including five Caldecott Honor Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, four Coretta Scott King Honor Awards, four New York Times Best Illustrated Book awards, and, in 2006, the Original Art’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of Illustrators, New York, NY. His books have been translated into eleven languages, and published in fourteen different countries. For more information about this beloved illustrator including his current projects, exhibitions and contact information, visit his website http://www.jerrypinkneystudio.com or check out one of his books from us here at the AADL.

Youth Nonfiction Finds -- Guide to the Good Life

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Increased homework? Video-game violence? Whatever the cause, recent studies show that kids today are more stressed and anxious than they were fifty years ago, or even last year. Fortunately, with a little help, stress and anxiety can be managed, and the youth department has plenty of books with suggestions to combat stress and live the good life.

Dr. Thomas McIntyre's book, The Behavioral Survival Guide for Kids, provides detailed, comprehensive information on a variety of issues -- building self-esteem, getting along with teachers, managing feelings, making friends, running for President...ok, that last one wasn't included. But other than that, this book has everything.

For those who like more specific advice, Patti Kelley Criswell's books offer excellent suggestions for managing all the ups and downs of friendship -- from making friends and having fun with friends, to making up after fights with friends. Younger readers may enjoy Peaceful Piggy Meditation, a simple guide to the practice and benefits of centering meditation.

Breathe deep, read good books and have a relaxing holiday season. Namaste!

Winter Solstice Craft Program

December 21st is the shortest day of the year and the first day of winter vacation for Ann Arbor's schoolchildren. It's also a good day to finish up making your holiday decorations.

Come to the Traverwood Branch on Monday, December 21st from 2 - 3 p.m. We will be making some festive winter crafts to brighten up this otherwise gray and gloomy day.
For ages preschool through 5th grade. All supplies will be provided.

Youth Music Notes -- Lullabies

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Lullbies are truly a universal form of music, existing all over the world in every language. My own mother was fond of the Gartan Mother's Lullaby, and I still hum it to myself in the evening, even though I have forgotten all the words. For those of you who would like to expand your own lullaby repertoire, the Youth Department has plenty of CD's for every taste.

Priscilla Herdman's Star Dreamer provides both "nightsongs" and lullabies, with soothing guitar accompaniments. Interestingly, many of her songs involve bears.

Lullabies of Latin America by Maria Del Rey provides traditional lullabies from all over the Spanish-speaking world. In the second half of the CD, the songs are all sung again, in English. A bilingual bonus!

Prolific children's musician Susie Tallman brings us another CD for fans of multicultural music. Lullabies For Sleepy Eyes includes Irish, French, German and American lullabies -- as well as the enigmatic Aussie favorite "Waltzing Matilda".

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